When “two weeks to flatten the curve” began, the workforce was split in two: Some were defined as “essential” workers, and others as “nonessential.” The “nonessential” ordered delivery from home while farmhands harvested crops, workers in meatpacking plants processed and packaged products, truckers shipped food across the country, cooks prepared dishes, Doordash “dashers” dropped off takeout on doorstops, and sanitation workers picked up the trash. This division allowed the professional class to be protected from exposure to the virus and set the stage for a two-tier society. These tiers are now upheld by medieval protocols that require service workers to remain masked while patrons show their bare faces, and by vaccine pass systems that disproportionately impact and exclude poor and working-class people, especially people of color.
In conjunction with this sharp class division, government assistance has often benefited the wealthy. In total, eligible Americans got $3,200 through three stimulus checks. However, the first stimulus bill, the CARES Act, provided 43,000 millionaires with $1.7 million each through a tax break, and the second stimulus bill included a $200 billion giveaway for the rich. The CARES Act also bailed out many corporations with few strings attached. In the case of the airline industry, for example, executives used taxpayer money to give themselves bonuses while laying off tens of thousands of employees.
This imbalance is part of what has fueled the ongoing worker revolt.Revolt of the Essential Workers – Tablet Magazine
“How did we get stuck?” the authors ask—stuck, that is, in a world of “war, greed, exploitation [and] systematic indifference to others’ suffering”? It’s a pretty good question. “If something did go terribly wrong in human history,” they write, “then perhaps it began to go wrong precisely when people started losing that freedom to imagine and enact other forms of social existence.” It isn’t clear to me how many possibilities are left us now, in a world of polities whose populations number in the tens or hundreds of millions. But stuck we certainly are.Review: ‘The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity’ – The Atlantic
The difficulty, of course, is that you can only take that so far before it’s no longer worth anyone’s while to do those poorly paid jobs on which the whole system depends. Here in the United States, we’ve reached that point, and not just for employees. Go to any town in flyover country and walk down the streets, past the empty storefronts where businesses used to flourish. There are millions of people who would love to start their own business, but it’s a losing proposition in an economy in which governments, banks, and property owners demand so large a cut that most small startup businesses can’t break even. The same is equally true, of course, for employees, whose wages no longer even pay the basic costs of getting by in today’s America.That Untraversed Land | Ecosophia